samedi 28 février 2015

Definitive Solution for WordPress Missed Schedule Issue

Did your scheduled post not get published on time? Is it making you insane that no matter what you do scheduled post feature in WordPress is not working for you?

You are not alone.

This has been an ongoing issue with WordPress which doesn’t seem to get resolved with every new release. Some say it is because of the caching plug-ins. And few others say that it is your web host server issue and has nothing to do with WordPress.

Ultimately, it is you and me, the users, who are getting affected with this issue. Irrespective of who need to solve this, it is an issue that ultimately gets blamed on WordPress. So the developers at WordPress need to make sure it gets resolved.

Anyway, till that gets resolved, I have found a definitive solution for WordPress missed schedule issue. It just works. And no, it is not because of W3 Total Cache plugin.

Why do you get “missed schedule posts” in WordPress?

The only reason the posts don’t get published on the scheduled time is because of some misconfiguration the CRON function is not working properly. Essentially WP-cron need to kick in at the right time for the scheduling feature to work. I don’t want to get too technical here, but it is something that can be easily fixed.

What DON’T you need to do?

  1. Don’t mess up with your WordPress function and config files.

  2. Don’t mess up with your W3 Total Cache or any other caching plugin settings. They are very important for your site, so don’t disable them.

  3. Don’t need to install another plug-in to solve this issue.

What should you DO?

  1. Login to your Web Host account. In my case it is Bluehost, so I will show you the screens from there. But your web host will have something similar.

  2. Click on “Cron Jobs” icononyourcPanel.
    Find Cron Job Icon

    Find Cron Job Icon

  3. Once you are on cron jobs page, under Common settings, select “Every 5 Minutes (*/5 * * * *)” from the drop down. If you don’t post very often, you should increase this to once every hour or even once a day to reduce load on your server.

  4. Add the following command in the “Command” window. wget -O /dev/null > /dev/null 2>&1
    Add New Cron Job

    Add New Cron Job

  5. Now click on “Add New Cron Job” button at the bottom.

  6. As soon as this cron job is added, you can try scheduling a test post and see if that works. Chances are that it will work.
    Current Cron Jobs

    Current Cron Jobs

  7. That’s it. You just needed to add this command.

Disclaimer: You need to make sure that the command you copied is right and the folder your wp-cron.php file is located is correct. Else you may run into major issues and break the site completely. In no event, Techacker can be held responsible for any issues with your site. Use the code on your own risk.

This cron job is the solution for WordPress missed schedule issue. Ideally, we would want that to happen automatically in WordPress. But for now, adding it manually does the trick.

Hope the trick helped you. I am relieved that it is working for me on Techacker. It is a major time saver.

Over to you

Do your scheduled posts gets posted on time? Were you using some plugin earlier to fix this issue? Let us know in comments section.

If this article helped you eliminate this issue, please help share the love.

Definitive Solution for WordPress Missed Schedule Issue

10 B2B Landing Pages Tips That Convert

landing page conversion tips

Are your landing pages optimized for B2B lead generation? You need to focus on conversion rate optimization on your pages, even if all your other online efforts are designed to attract prospects. High-converting landing pages are versatile and you can apply them to a variety of different campaigns with some careful consideration.

Online marketing is often more difficult for B2B firms because of the longer sales cycle. Most people define this as the length of time between the first customer contact and closing the deal. This used to be a liner process, but the Internet has added more client touch points and complicated the cycle.

With this in mind, what goes into a successful landing page for business marketers?

1. Create Landing Pages For The Different Stages Of The Sales Cycle

The same offers and content won’t be relevant to all your leads. Consider what someone who just discovered your company would be interested in reading. It probably isn’t the same content that would engage a lead who is closer to making a purchasing decision. You need to carefully plan your campaigns and landing pages to get the most out of paid search. Each landing page should reflect the content in a separate ad.

2. Gate Your Most Valuable Content

Want an easy way to generate more leads? Entice prospects with a whitepaper, case study, or eBook and require them to fill out a form to download the content. This creates an opportunity for you to contact them in the future and you can get a better idea of how your most detailed content is performing.

3. Personalize

Even when it comes to business products, leads still want personal interactions with brands. However, you need to shift away from being overly promotional on your landing pages. Create content that is centered around your target prospects’ main interests.

In addition, landing pages can be used to give a real-life view into your organization, which helps leads establish a more emotional connection with your brand. One of the most important ways to do this is use conversational language rather than being overly formal.

4. A/B Test Everything

If you study your landing pages, you will likely to be able to find areas for improvement. How effective is your call to action? Is the page layout intuitive for how people are interacting with the content? A/B testing helps you answer these questions, as well as make adjustments to other areas of the content.

5. Adjust Your Call To Action

Much of the room for improvement on many B2B landing pages involves weak calls to action. Your CTA needs to clearly tell visitors what’s in it for them. Tell potential leads how the action will help them. It’s also important to limit the conversion actions to as few steps as possible. Using a graphic to support the CTA can be effective as well.

6. Streamline Forms

Lead-generation forms are one of the most important elements on a B2B landing page, but they can derail your efforts without optimization. Reducing the number of required fields typically increases conversion rate, but it may contribute to lower-quality leads.

However, too many requirements can scare away qualified leads. Test different aspects of the form, such as number of fields, placement, wording and the name of the asset for best results.

7. Support Multiple Buyer Preferences

Because B2B product offerings are often complex, a single landing page may not be enough. Include links to your blog or other relevant content to support the independent research process.

8. Remove The Navigation Bar

This tip may seem counterintuitive, but the landing page is a step in the sales funnel and the navigation bar can distract prospects from taking the desired next step. Streamlining the page can keep prospects focused.

9. Use Customer Testimonials

This creates a more personal connection with your brand and builds trust. B2B leads are more interested in what your customers have to say about you than content you publish about yourself in many instances.

10. Organize Your Page For Conversions

The best B2B landing pages are short and sweet, but you still need to think about the flow of the different elements. All the aspects on the page need to have a clear connection to drive conversions.

10 B2B Landing Pages Tips That Convert

4 Tips For Building Your Personal Brand

17738-business-man-pointing-pvWhen entering into the professional market, your personal brand is everything. It showcases your credibility, your experiences, and what you have to offer. You may already be familiar with the foundational aspects of personal branding, such as creating a compelling LinkedIn profile and developing an online blog presence; however, there are a few things that are generally forgotten. Oftentimes PR and advertising professionals focus many of the efforts on developing brands for clients, but today we will give four key tips to help you make your brand stand out.

1. Create your mission statement

The first step in creating your personal brand and portraying yourself as an expert is developing a mission for your brand. Your brand’s mission statement covers your professional aspirations and goals. It can emphasize many things, such as your desire to become a thought leader, or your intention to help others reach their goals.

2. Clean up your social media

The twenty first century is a time of constant connectivity. What goes up online never really comes down. Be cautious of what you post on your personal social media accounts. In fact, it might be time to ditch the profile that contains the social photos from your crazy college years and establish a professional presence, or at least change the name on your personal account. Social media can be a way for professionals to connect with different networks. Use it accordingly.

3. Network (i.e. make friends)

I’m sure you have had plenty of experiences that emphasized the importance of networking. The key to effective networking is building connections and communicating your message to the right people — not necessarily to the entire world. Attending luncheons for organizations that you have a strong professional connection to is a great place to start. For instance, if you are a marketing professional in the Phoenix Valley area, you might be interested in a membership with the Business Marketing Association, or if you are PR professional check out your local PRSA chapter for upcoming conference and networking events.

Be sure to compile a contact list of address important connections you make along the way. Stay in touch. Be helpful.

4. Reach out

A great way to build up your own brand is by reaching out and helping others. Get involved with a cause that you truly believe in. Use your acquired skills, relationships, and smarts to assist your connections and colleagues. For example, if you see a job opening that fits one of your colleagues, or an opportunity to lend a hand in one of their non-profit endeavors, offer up your assistance. This shows that you genuinely care about them and their success. This is also a way to build credibility in your personal brand and let your actions speak for themselves.

Building a strong personal brand is certainly not limited to this short list. We want to hear from you. What are some things that you have done to amp up your personal brand? Share in the comments below!

4 Tips For Building Your Personal Brand

The Elusive “Right” Conversation In Today’s Workplace

TheRightConversationHave you ever been frustrated and confused by recurring conversations that never achieve your intended results?

If so, the answer could be that you are having one of the three “wrong” conversations.

Specifically, it is likely you’re having the “wrong” conversation with the “right” person. (See diagram.)

Finding the “right” conversation is trickier than it seems.

Here are two examples that provide insight into how easy it is to miss-identify the “right” conversation.

“Wrong” Conversation With The “Right” Person Case Study #1:

A project manager was working with an outside vendor to acquire appropriate resources to move a project forward.

Early in the relationship the vendor suggested resources that the project manager agreed were appropriate, but her boss didn’t.

The project manager felt strongly that the vendor was providing a solution that was in the best interests of the project manager’s company.

The project manager’s boss disagreed.

The ensuing debate eroded the trust between the project manager and her boss.

As the project manager fought for the vendor’s solution her boss began to think she didn’t have her company’s best interest in mind and was looking out more for the vendor.

In our coaching conversation the project manager told me she needed to have a conversation to influence her boss regarding additional project resources to be secured from this vendor.

Immediately I recognized this as the wrong conversation.

It was only going to be a replay of the previous conversations, further eroding this project manager’s relationship with her boss.

I redirected her towards the “right” conversation. Which would be to dig deeper into the issue of why the boss doesn’t feel she has the company’s best interests in mind.

The project manager needed to seek to understand what evidence her boss was using to develop this belief.

In this instance the one “right” conversation had to be about rebuilding trust with the boss and show him she did have the company’s best interest in mind so that the project manager could be successful in future conversations.

“Wrong” Conversation With The “Right” Person Case Study #2:

A woman came up to speak with me after my keynote address on “The 7 Deadliest Communication Sins.” She was excited that the talk helped her decide to have a direct and candid conversation with a woman on her team.

After thanking her, I asked a question to seek to understand the situation deeper.

She told me that this woman was very passive-aggressive and in the recent past had failed to follow-through on commitments she made.

The woman from my audience was excited to have another conversation to again gain that commitment to the desired behaviors.

I immediately told her that was the “wrong” conversation to have with this “right” person.

She looked at me like a deer caught in headlights.

I asked her what gave her confidence the woman would follow through this time.

After receiving another blank stare I told her “the right conversation is about this woman’s lack of follow through on previous commitments.”

This is a much more difficult conversation. She would be calling out this woman’s inability or unwillingness to fulfill agreed commitments.

Alternatively, this could be framed as more of a coaching conversation to seek to understand the roadblocks to the follow through and to offer help to overcome them.

Otherwise, it would become nagging by asking again, and again, for the same commitment.

Commit To The “Right” Conversation

Finding the right conversation is challenging but vital for organization success.

Commit to it!

The Elusive “Right” Conversation In Today’s Workplace

Google Inbox Gets Social

facebookThe debate over the significance, or redundancy, of social search has been around for decades. Is social search here to stay or has it come and gone without a trace?

‘Social search’ essentially refers to bringing the traditional word-of-mouth experience online. It is now generally accepted that consumers are more likely to pay attention and trust recommendations from some one they know- people are curious about what their networks have to say.

TechCrunch recently made the argument that social search is, well, dead. TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois referred to Google’s various past social search launches – such as one attempt to integrate information found in our social networks to our general online search results page. However this information was soon eliminated after users complained that results pages became too cluttered.

“…the data clearly showed that social search wasn’t working,” Frederic Lardinois noted. While “social search” was a keyword in Google’s previous launches, he added, now it seems to have just fizzled away.

What Google’s October launch of its Inbox app, shows, however, is that while “social search was not mentioned, it has discreetly become an integral part of the app.” The Inbox app, which some reviewers have coined the ‘virtual assistant,’ is an alternative to Gmail that offers new additional tools and functions to users. It includes a new highlights tab that extracts the most relevant information from your email content.

“There’s even a Low Priority bundle for emails that Google’s algorithms deem you’re less likely to read, such as store sales…” noted by Amadou Diallo

A mini social profile of your contacts’ is also visible in the inbox, making any need for a quick Google or LinkedIn search of an individual unnecessary. It appears social search has already been integrated in the app. There is even a social alerts function, which, when enabled, can keep you updated with your networks activity in real-time.

Social search may no longer be a buzz-word for marketers, however it would be a mistake to dismiss its existing value in raising online brand awareness, particularly for new, tech-savvy businesses cropping up every day looking to stand out from their competitors. And Google has certainly integrated social search into a function we can no longer live without – email.

Google Inbox Gets Social

The 3 Ratios Every Small Business Owner Should Use

Measure Your Business’s Health With These Financial Ratios

business financial graphicLarge companies use defined financial ratios to analyze the health of the organization. There are dozens of established ratios that test a variety of financial domains, including the ability to pay debt, secure stockholder funding, and expand services.

Not all ratios are used by every company. Small business owners should use the following ratios that help manage day-to-day activities while still keeping an eye on growth:

Quick Ratio

This metric derives its name from the speed in which you can get out of your business. The quick ratio is cash, accounts receivable and other assets that can be quickly realized divided by your total current liabilities. This ratio tells you whether or not you can cover your debt without tapping into your inventory. It looks at a point in time for your business and determines if it is healthy at that point.

If your assets are greater than your liabilities, the quick ratio will be greater than one. Decimal ratios show that your business needs a fast infusion of cash to be strong. You may consider cashing out long-term income from things like structured settlements and annuity payments using J.G. Wentworth. If your quick ratio is more than two, this means that you have twice the capital that you need and should think about expanding your business.

Operating Margin

The second ratio of the financial triumvirate measures the income from operations divided by the net sales. The operating income is the profit after deducting variable costs of production or service delivery. If this ratio is equal to one, then there is no cost for doing business and all of the income from sales is profit. On the other hand, if the ratio approaches zero, all of the income from sales is eaten up by producing the item. Somewhere is the middle of these two extremes is a good profit margin. This ratio only looks at operating costs and before-tax sales. It does not take into consideration after-tax effects or cash assets.

There are other profitability ratios that are more robust in their analysis and work better for larger companies, but for a small business, the operating margin ratio tells you everything you need to know about your profit. Since entrepreneurial ventures are often closely linked to the owner’s net worth, things like tax bases and fixed expenses do not fit into the mix. When we drop the kids off at school, go see a client, then come home to the office, it is useless to separate out these expenses as fixed costs. The operating margin lets us ignore these and focus only on the profitability for one service or product.

Cash Flow To Debt

Many new businesses have failed because they did not analyze their cash flow. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration cites underfunding and poor cash flow as one of the main reasons a new business fails. This coverage ratio is your net income plus depreciation divided by total debt, and it is considered the best predictor of business failure. A number less than one means you cannot cover your bills without securing additional funds. A ratio greater than one but less than two is good, and anything high shows that you have surplus capital and you should start looking at investing or expanding.

The 3 Ratios Every Small Business Owner Should Use

How Strongly To Believe In Your People?

Do you believe in your people? Do you believe in them, perhaps more strongly than they believe in themselves?

If you don’t believe more strongly than they do, you will never be able to maximize their performance or fulfill their potential. At most, you’ll get some improvement, but probably not sustainable improvement.

Our jobs as leaders are to get our people to perform at the highest levels possible, fulfilling both their short and long term potential.

Sometimes, I think it’s this absence of belief that impacts our effectiveness as leaders and coaches. If we are asking our people to change, to step up what they are doing, but if we don’t believe in their ability to do it, then they never will. We’ve created a self fulfilling prophecy, and it’s not our people’s faults, it’s ours. We become the weak link in driving performance improvement.

Coaching and developing our people is a “contact sport.” (Figuratively, that is.)

It requires our full commitment and engagement in seeing our people succeed.

Improving performance, whether it’s taking someone who isn’t performing well and getting them to improve or taking a strong performer and challenging them to stretch, is about change. We are asking our people to change what they are doing. Perhaps, they are doing something wrong. Perhaps they can do something better. Perhaps they need to do something different. But to be effective, in getting our people to change and improve, we have to show them a clear path, we have to get them engaged both in understanding, but believing and owning the change.

To get them to see this, to give them the courage to step up to the change, we have to believe they can do it. Otherwise we set them up for failure–wasting their time and ours.

This is particularly important with poor performers. If we have given up on them, if we don’t believe they can fix their performance problems, then they never will. And we may be cheating them because of our own beliefs. If we can’t get our heads wrapped around believing they can improve, we might as well stop. We are best having a heart to hear t with them, moving them into a role where both we and they believe they can achieve success.

Coaching and developing our people is the single highest leverage activity we can undertake as managers and leaders. But regardless of how well we know how to coach. Regardless of how skilled we might be in asking non-directive questions. Regardless, how disciplined we are in investing the time in coaching. Regardless of how well we execute the “mechanics” of coaching, we never achieve sustained success unless we believe in the ability and willingness of our people to do achieve the goals.

If we don’t believe in our people, if we don’t believe more strongly than they do, we will never help them change and achieve extraordinary goals. We–our people and ourselves just end up going through the motions. Our lack of belief holds them back from achieving what they could.

We can’t do this casually, we have to be fully engaged. It’s not about cheerleading (though some amount of cheerleading helps), it’s about helping our people learn about themselves, helping them see a path to improving and growing. It’s about getting them to believe in it, visualize, and take action.

Think back to the good managers and inspirational leaders you have had. They probably had one thing in common, they believed in what you could do or what you could achieve more strongly than you believed it yourself. They challenged you, inspired you. They were disappointed when you didn’t challenge yourself to achieve your full potential.

As I reflect on my career, it’s been a number of key people – my parents, my wife, my family, some close friends, a few teachers, some inspirational managers, a few peers or colleagues. All of these people knew I could achieve more. They believed in me. They challenged me — not to meet their expectations, but to fulfill my potential. They are continuing to do this because they know I can do more, and because they believe that I know I can do more.

Do you believe in your people? Do you believe more strongly than they do? Are you committed to their success?

If you are, both you and they will accomplish tremendous things.

How Strongly To Believe In Your People?

The Use of Art in Corporate Spaces

Modern times bring new ideas and so have the ideas of a workplace changed over time to represent a much more pleasant and interesting setting. In the past it was regarded that if one diminishes the area where one works it will enable the people to focus on the job solely and not think about anything else. Fortunately that idea has been dropped as it represented the worker by working in untimely conditions. Changing the workplace of a person made the worker inspired and comfortable to work in, being loose and not tense was something that greatly enhanced the productivity. But now there is a new premise where the most unbelievable thing imaginable allows the people to produce better working results. Art has inspired many people in doing unimaginable things, but it has lately started to be used as a thing which helps the working area and boosts the productivity of the workers.

What some of the surveys have shown is that having a piece of art greatly boosts the result of the people in an office setting, The survey conducted says that people who work in an office show much better results if they have a picture hanging on the wall which has been done by a prime artists. This is why people more and more have started trying this and have been decorating their office space with prime works of art. It is a sneaky idea, but one which shows a lot of results as the office does not just look good and presentable, but rather inspiring, which is the prime reason of its use.

You might think that it is not easy to find a piece of art which will suite your particular office surrounding. But in these contemporary times there are many places where one could easily find decorations for your corporate space. Buying art online is one of the most used and easiest ways. There are websites that offer you fine art at different rates, which enable you to search for paintings very quickly that will in turn grace your working area.

What do the specialists have to say about this subject? Well actually many things and one of them is that it truly is a good idea. Psychologists would certainly agree that this can prove to be a great way to boost the creativity of a person by passively showing him a colorful picture which will help him go through the long working hours. This does not of course mean, that you can slap on any old ordinary stickman figure on the wall and call it art, one needs to find something which has been first labeled as artistic and then use it as an injection of inspiration for your workers.

What most people agree on is that it is a logical way of boosting productivity and inspiring people. One will certainly enjoy looking at a pretty picture painted by a maestro than to look at a plain wall. Even a figurine of some sorts can also be something artistic and inspiring. Workers feel pleasant and comfortable, and it is their feeling of safety which provides them with the much needed strength to carry on their work and even enhance the results at the end. This is particularly favorable with people who are visual learners or are triggered by visual images. It will not only bolster their effectiveness at their working area but will certainly inspire them to achieve better results and come up with new and better ideas.

Corporate officials all agree that having a piece of art in an office setting sends a great message to their clients. This is also very true, as the visual feeling one gets when entering an office will enhance the opinion one has about that firm. Many people agree that first impressions are the most important thing when doing business, and having a nice painting will enable you to achieve that feeling in your clients. The message that you send will affect your future business endeavors with that client.

It is fairly easy now to decorate your working area with prime art pieces as there are many people who do this for a living. If you are not sure how to decorate your office or workplace you can read the tips from the experts or simply hire a professional who knows about these things. Interior designers are more than interested to help you in picking out the most suitable painting to go with the area where business is going to be conducted. There are also special services that can be hired to arrange your office in this manner.

The Use of Art in Corporate Spaces

Increase Your Influence With LinkedIn’s Long-Form Publishing

Influence is earned. It can’t be bought, swindled, or given through some anointing process. It’s a reputation, and reputations must be earned through experience and interactions. Blogging can help accomplish that goal, and social media is an incredible tool for becoming an influencer as well, but you have to build a readership and work to gain followers before they can become effective for you.

Enter LinkedIn’s long-form publishing tool. LinkedIn is social media, true, but it’s also a platform for connecting with others in your industry (or related industries) in a more professional setting. No cat videos or pictures of last night’s meal allowed. Because of the specificity of the setting and the groups you can join, becoming a person of influence within your sphere of expertise is much easier than on Facebook or Twitter.

Now that the publishing platform has been open to all users for more than six months, the data is in and the results are clear. To increase your influence online in your field, it’s an indispensable tool.

The Two Keys For Influencing

There are two key things that make someone an influencer: great content and an effective distribution network. One without the other is an exercise in futility. The best content ever written will lie endlessly in obscurity without a readership that will view and gain from it. The best distribution channel available is worthless if the content distributed isn’t worth the reader’s time. First, let’s discuss what good content is as it relates to LinkedIn.

The Right Content For The Platform

Good content can be a highly subjective term depending on the audience you want to reach. No one could argue (and still remain intellectually honest) that War and Peace isn’t good content, but it wouldn’t get many eyeballs on social media even if the length was allowed. Your world-class poetry might get some attention on LinkedIn, but only if you were already a member of poetry groups with members who chose to follow you. 5 Tips on Getting Your Poetry Read, however, would be much more likely to attract attention from the right crowd.

According to data from the first six months of the platform being available, the best headlines are between 5-8 words long and include words like ‘success,’ ‘career,’ ‘interview,’ or numbered tips like ’13 Ways…’, and they are between 800-1000 words. Articles with these lengths and headline types get shared more than any others. The exception is the 2000+ word piece that is expertly crafted, but if it isn’t really, really great, that length will glaze eyes and involuntarily move a reader’s hand to click away before they get halfway through.

The highest performing types of content on LinkedIn are advice and tips for business, career, and self-help and development. It is a professional networking site after all. Broad topics that span the business world spectrum are fine, but the most effective pieces will fall into a specific niche. This is where your opportunity lies. An influencer has things to share that readers haven’t seen everywhere else. What have you learned through your own experience that would help others? What insights have you gleaned that others may not have considered?

The Usual Rules Still Apply

SEO isn’t dead, it’s just changed. Optimizing your profiles and posts for search results should always be a priority, just not one that supersedes great content. Using optimal keywords in your headlines and posts is ideal, just don’t compromise your writing to try and fit them in, and use them sparingly.

LinkedIn publishing allows for rich text formatting, images, videos, and all the usual aspects you would expect from a blog or website. Use them. Format your posts as you would for your own blog or site, with sub-headings, bulleted lists, images, and any other aspect that will make the post more visually appealing and easier to read.

Landing and squeeze pages are the proper place for self-promotion and selling, not here. It’s fine to mention your product or service, and to link to them, as long as it’s more of a side note to the content. People will read. like, and share your content because they gain insight and information from it, not because of your product. Keep the promotional aspects minimal and subdued, and give them a reason to want to find out more. That reason should be that they consider you to be knowledgeable about the subject and that they can gain from more of that knowledge in their feeds. It’s always what they can get out of it, not you.

The Jumping-Off Point

Once your content is great and you’ve optimized it, it’s time to take advantage of the opportunity. This is the brilliant part of the platform’s distribution power. Your audience will consist of three types of readers. Primarily will be the people you engage with on the site, especially in groups. They are much more likely to read what you write, and because they are already engaged individuals, they are much more likely to share it as well. If they’re engaged on LinkedIn, they’re probably engaged on other forums and sites elsewhere.

Secondly will be your connections that you don’t share a group with, and thirdly will be the LinkedIn population as a whole. Don’t expect a lot from either of these groups unless you really grab them with a headline. Are you getting the bigger picture here? Being actively involved with groups in your industry on LinkedIn should be a primary course of action on social media. Read what others post, comment on their posts and articles, answer questions. They can help you increase your influence quicker than anything else.

Finally, never forget to cross-promote anything you write. If you publish it on LinkedIn, publish snippets and links on every social site you are active on. Link to it from your blog. Post in your LinkedIn groups. You know the drill (or you should anyway). You want to make any LinkedIn post the starting point from which you spread out across the web. That way the message starts with the right people – industry folks that you are engaged with – and then spreads to others. That gives you a better chance at more reach from the very beginning.

Our social media dashboard can help you in this journey. While LinkedIn publishing isn’t directly incorporated (yet), you can still monitor, post, and respond to mentions, discussions, job postings, and a wide variety of aspects of the network directly from Sendible, as well as handling all of your cross-promoting and posting to other networks.

One last thing. If you’re looking for your dream job using LinkedIn, imagine how much more attention you’ll get when you are established as an influencer in your field. It would be nice to have to choose from offers because they have seen your level of expertise and insight, wouldn’t it?

Increase Your Influence With LinkedIn’s Long-Form Publishing

Confusion-Free SEO Marketing In 3 Steps

SEO marketing can be confusing. After all, when it comes to SEO there are a million things that you can do. From link building, to promoting content on social media, to keyword research, to competitive research, to building out landing pages, to internal link building, to producing content and everything in between.

With so many potential things that can be done, how do you decide what to do, and when to do it? It can be very confusing and without a certain level of clarity in your mind.

Because of this, it’s useful to break down all the things that can be done for SEO into three simple steps.

Step 1: Research.

Step 2: Onsite Optimization.

Step 3: Offsite Optimization.

I’ll explain each step with personal examples in further detail below.

Step 1: Research

Research will always be the top priority when it comes to SEO. Because research lays the foundation for your entire strategy. Without great research, you’re guaranteed to go in the wrong direction, right from the start.

In fact, I would argue that 90 percent of your success revolves around quality research around KW’s in your industry and even better competitive research targeting your top competition. In other words, your road to SEO success is paved before you start implementing anything.

Personal Example: I consulted for an Australian camera rental shop. Their site was old, and a relic from the 90s (in the process of getting a redesign) and it was optimized for “camera rental” as that had the most searches on Google. Here is the problem, Australian’s say “camera hire” and are more likely to actually search for that. However, without doing the research, “camera rental” seemed like a much better KW to target to them. So not only were they going after a much more competitive KW, but if they would’ve ranked, it would have brought them less qualified traffic.

So I did some research and found that “camera hire” had decent traffic in Australia, and was mildly competitive but “Sydney Camera Hire” had almost just as much traffic and there was essentially no competition. So we rebuilt our foundation accordingly, and within a month results came pouring in.

This is the power of proper research.

How you can use this information: Keyword research can go deep, but the starting point is almost always Google’s adword tool. In order to gain access to the tool, you need to sign up for a free adwords account. Once you’ve done that, the tool is free and will get you started with your own keyword ideas.

Step 2: Onsite Optimization

After you’ve done proper research, it’s time to start making the right changes to your website that will communicate to the search engine what your site is all about.

Think about this as directly and properly telling Google what your pages are all about, and therefore what types of searches they are relevant for.

In other words, onsite optimization is all about relevancy: how to make a page relevant for a particular keyword.

Just like the research step, this step is also very powerful. Let me explain with another recent example I’ve encountered.

Personal Example: I began working with a plastic surgery startup in Utah that wanted to start attracting traffic for breast augmentation terms. After going through the research phase, we all agreed that the site needed target phrases like “breast augmentation Utah” as these phrases were clearly the profitable keywords they wanted to target. Obviously in order to make this happen, we needed to build out a site and have the site target optimized perfectly. Since the company is a startup, they wanted us to just throw a quick site up until it actually achieved some rankings. When this happened they would build out a new, more professional looking site. After just a few weeks of putting up the site, and optimizing it perfectly, it’s about to break the first page of Google for the phrases that matter to them.

This is the power of proper onsite optimization.

How you can use this information: Proper onsite optimization is fairly easy, yet outside the scope of this article. Go check out Moz’s “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” and get every detail on proper onsite optimization that you could ever need.

Step 3: Offsite Optimization

Okay, we’ve done the right research and created the right pages that have been optimized, now what?

Offsite optimization: a.k.a. link building.

Think about offsite optimization as indirectly telling Google what your pages are authoritative for. This is all about creating authority.

There are really only a couple ways to build authority to your website and they all involve links. You can link within your existing site, get links from other sites or get links from social media sites. It’s really all about links.

Let me explain with just how powerful link building actually is.

Personal Example: I recently built out a website for my dad’s geological consulting company. Of course, being an SEO guy I wanted to make sure that it ranked well for the phrases that would pay off for my dad. So obviously I followed my own 3-step process. I did the research, I optimized the pages, and….nothing. No rankings; not yet at least. I decided to start an active link building effort of the site. Within 1 month of putting a little dedicated effort, the site is now ranking very well for phrases that are generating leads. What did I do? I found anyway I could to get legitimate links going to the site! This is all Google needed to give me their trust.

How you can use this information: Building links can be a huge hassle and very time consuming. Generally, writing articles and getting them placed on industry relevant blogs and websites is the easiest and most powerful way to go about building the authority you need. Set a goal, reach out to every online publication you can think of and pitch them article ideas, and find a way to get a legitimate link within your content.


SEO can see confusing but it boils down to three simple steps. Do your research, optimize onsite (relevancy) and optimization offsite (authority). When each step is executed correctly, SEO results follow.

Hopefully you’ve been inspired to go out and SEO success a reality for your business. When you do it right, you won’t regret it, I promise.

Confusion-Free SEO Marketing In 3 Steps

Is Correcting Your Wikipedia Article Worth The Time

Should you take the time to correct factual errors with your Wikipedia Article?

So you recently discovered that there is a Wikipedia article about you or your company. As with many Wikipedia articles, it contains errors in facts or is worded to give the inappropriate amount of weight to certain information. Correcting your Wikipedia article is something that you want to do. But, before you do so, you need to determine if it is worth correcting your Wikipedia article.

Wikipedia is one of the top 10 most visited websites. This means that if there is a Wikipedia article about you or your company, people are likely to read about you there as opposed to your own website. While it is often good to have a Wikipedia article as you are assured a top 10 placement on page 1 of Google, it is often a menace as Wikipedia articles are prone to factual errors. While only you control the content on your own website, EVERYONE controls the content on Wikipedia. This means that you are at the mercy of what is printed about you in reliable sources and the editors who interpret those sources when editing your article.

When determining if you should correct your Wikipedia article, there are several things to keep in mind.

Reliable sources govern the “facts”:

It may seem like an easy thing to do, but correcting factual errors is not as simple as you think. Wikipedia is not based on facts, it is based on what reliable sources say about the subject. This means that although your article may contain a factual error, the only way to correct that error is to find a reliable source that contains the facts. Here is an example:

If your article says that a company has 4,000 employees when the company actually has 6,000 employees, it is likely that the most recent reliable source uses 4,000. It is common for a company to correct its Wikipedia article to reflect the correct number, only to be met with uprising from the Wikipedia community for doing so. If the most recent reliable sources says 4,000, then that is the number that will be used for Wikipedia. You will need to find a more recent reliable source containing the true number if you want to correct the information.

Sometimes it seems like looking into a crystal ball is the only way to determine fact from fiction on Wikipedia.

This is an issue that came to the forefront regarding #gamergate. The topic is heated and was the target of many stories printed in reliable sources. In early 2015, it was reported that Wikipedia has banned numerous female editors from the topic when it fact it had not. Unfortunately, Wikipedia became a burden onto itself as since the reliable sources stated that the community banned the editors, this is the information that went into the article.

Wikipedia editors are looking for you:

Wikipedia editors are always looking to tell other editors they are doing wrong. This is even more emphasized when their find a new editor doing something wrong. Many times new editors do not understand the guidelines. Hell, even experienced editors do not understand many of the guidelines and make mistakes. As a new editor Wikipedia editors are more likely to scrutinize and delete your edits than they are with an editor who has been editing the site for years (some editors have created a “bully” persona and are unlikely to be challenged for any edits they make). So, when making a change to any article, make sure that you do so within Wikipedia guidelines and cite the reliable source that supports the content you are changing.

Wikipedia editors hate conflicts of interested and they are not shy about threatening to destroy any edit where someone has one.

Wikipedia editors hate conflicts of interested and they are not shy about threatening to destroy any edit where someone has one.

Now, if you are editing for yourself or your company, keep in mind that Wikipedia editors HATE conflicts of interest. Even if you are changing something as simple as the number of employees for your company, editors are likely to revert your edit simply because you are doing so on behalf of your company. That is why correcting your Wikipedia article will be more difficult as opposed to you correcting another article that you have no connecting with. Of course no editor will know that you represent a company or yourself unless you edit without an account (it will show your ip address which can then be tracked to its location) or use an account name that links you to the article (such as using your own name to edit an article about yourself – this is an obvious tell).

Even the Wikipedia co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales learned this lesson when trying to correct his own article years ago.

If it’s not that bad, leave it alone:

Correcting your Wikipedia article may seem like a big deal to you personally. After all, you want the truth to be told, not interpretation of conjection between reliable sources. However, keep in mind that any edit you do will be scrutinized by the Wikipedia community. If they know that you are the topic of the article you are correcting, it will likely lead to an editor leaving an ugly tag at the top of the article or even worse – deletion. So, if it is not something that makes a difference one way or another, leaving it as it is should be considered.

If you are looking for help correcting your Wikipedia article, I will gladly provide you with advice on how to proceed. I never charge for initial consultations and will let you know any specific issues that you are likely to face. You can then proceed on your own or obtain a quote for me to do it for you. I do charge for services, but I also like to help those looking to dive into the world of Wikipedia without having to deal with the bureaucracy of editors looking to bite the hands of newcomers to the website.

Is Correcting Your Wikipedia Article Worth The Time

How To Gain Deep Insights Into New Customer Buying Behaviors

iNSIGHT by Andras Horvath

INSIGHT by Andras Horvath

The digital economy continues to evolve at a fast clip. New technologies are being introduced nearly every month. Startups are ascending while long tenured organizations suddenly find themselves on shaky grounds. New services and product introductions are falling flat. Making the pursuit of understanding why customers are buying or not buying most difficult for many companies today.

What we can be certain of is the buying behaviors of customers are changing. Companies today can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch these changes from afar. In essence, risking they will be left entirely out of the new digital playing field customers will engage in. Such a pressing issue raises important questions for executives leading organizations today in marketing and sales:

  • How do we understand the new customer and buyer of today?

  • How do we adapt to newfound customer buying behaviors?

  • Why are customers buying or not buying?

  • How do we gain critical customer insights needed to be informed?

  • Where should we allocate precious and limited resources to engage customers?

  • How do we redesign our organization to meet the new expectations of customers?

  • How do we redesign and align our marketing and sales to respond to changing as well as new buying behaviors?

These are just a few of many questions business leaders are keeping top of mind. What they have in common is businesses today are confronted with having gaps in understanding changing and new customer buying behaviors.

How Do We Understand New Customer Buying Behaviors?

I have seen firsthand, through hundreds of qualitative buyer interviews, how rapid changes in customer buying behaviors are taking place. What is becoming evident is business organizations can no longer be content to a point of thinking they understand. To understand must be a constant endeavor for the new digital world continues to spin on its axis and become anew at each turn.

The implication for businesses is the need to have capabilities in place to make understanding customers and buyers a core competency. To date, some are building this core competency. Yet many treat understanding customers and buyers as a one-off study they can use for the next decade. This approach can prove to be fatal.

Let us take a look at seven new capabilities and approaches business organizations today will need to stay informed of new customer buying behaviors:

1. Immerse Yourself In The Business Of Your Customers

Companies today can no longer be content to just get to know customers via quantitative data or through win/loss oriented phone calls. Nor can they rely on the reports of their sales people entirely. Most cultural shifts (and we are in the midst of a big one) come with behavioral shifts, which must be observed. Meaning, organizations today need to find ways to immerse themselves in the business of their customers. One way is through immersive qualitative buyer research and ethnography. Whether using internal or external resources, a business will never truly understand until they walk in the shoes of their customers.

2. Return To Segmentation

Somewhere in the ballyhoo of excitement over content marketing, inbound marketing, and etc., business leaders in marketing and sales may be glossing over needed segmentation. This is fundamental to at least understanding the clusters of buyers and customers most representative of a segment. When it comes to understanding new customer buying behaviors, seeing how new behaviors differ between segments becomes of vital importance.

3. Get To Know The Many Situations Confronting Your Customers

There is much fluidity in terms of the situations customers and buyers are confronted with. Meeting customer expectations today means understanding the various situations and scenarios they are most likely to be in the midst of or see in the future. Scenario planning is a core element of buyer persona development and it should most certainly be a core competency of organizations intent on understanding changing and new customer buying behaviors.

4. Know How Customers Think And View The World

Every day, how customers think is influenced by a new vision of the world they live and work in. New thinking and a new view of the world ultimately reshapes the buying behavior of customers and buyers. Understanding the qualitative means of mental modeling, associated with buyer persona development, is important to getting at this crucial element. More important now than ever as executives are putting more weight on subjective human factors than on functional factors such as buying criteria, performance factors, and etc. when making decisions.

5. Understand The Customer Narrative

Customers and businesses today have unfolding stories about who they are, what they represent, and where they hope to go. It is important for businesses to understand the clear narratives of their customers and how they can contribute to the still unfolding story. More importantly, producing clear Persona-Based Customer Narratives help employees to understand their role in satisfying customers.

6. Follow The Different Paths They Take Towards A Decision

The shortcomings of the buzz around buyer’s journey are rising to the surface. When you start calling something the indirect or the circular buyer’s journey – it is no longer useful. Customers today take different paths to a purchase decision, depending on each unique scenario and set of goals. These paths can include digital and collaborative paths towards a purchase decision. An analogy would be this – if you are a hiker, depending on your goal, you will choose from among the 2-mile path, the 8-mile path, or the 20-mile path. You decide the 8-mile path fits your goal of hiking strenuously yet feasible to finish before it gets dark. You return a month later but bring a friend along. To accommodate your friend, you choose the 2-mile path in order to not overwhelm your friend on the first hike he takes with you. The problem with the “buyer’s journey” approach today is it presumes the buyer takes the same linear journey each and every time in a very physical world. In the digital and collaborative economy, this is not the reality.

7. Make Your Buyer Personas An Authentic Representation

Buyer personas created via the use of functional and factual profiling language such as buying criteria, key success factors, initiatives, and the likes are not providing an authentic representation of the very insights needed to understand customers and buyers – their changing and new buying behaviors. The purpose of buyer persona development is to get at the heart of goal-directed buying behaviors and not customer profiling. Many buyer persona development efforts have failed due to being led down this course of functional factors-based profiling as opposed to understanding buying behaviors.

Building A Clear Picture Of Customers

The above outlines seven points to consider in order to gain deep insights into new customer buying behaviors. An important point is they are interdependent to each other. To get the clear and graspable simple picture of changing and new customer buying behaviors, these elements help you to build upon each other so the picture emerges with bursting colors. If you stay on the path of older conventional functional profiling, you will have a picture, which slowly fades away.

(What follows is a talk given by Rachel Botsman, which touches upon the new collaborative economy and the rise of reputation capital. Getting to know how customers think includes the intangible of reputation. A recent Forbes Knowledge Group study points to nearly half of business executives surveyed relied on reputation in their decision-making. Although oriented to the consumer marketplace, it is a fascinating talk in which some of these ideas will crossover into the world of business-to-business before too long. Enjoy.)

How To Gain Deep Insights Into New Customer Buying Behaviors

Joining the Customer Journey Using Online Communities

Customer journey2Every marketer from Boston to Bejing seems to be focused on something called the “customer journey.” A Google search on this two-word phrase returns over 627,000 results. It’s one of those “Eureka!” moments – organizations realize buyers start researching a firm’s products and services long before they reach the point of purchase. These firms are now scrambling to find and engage with those customers while they are still on the move and before they arrive at a sales destination decision. But I gotta tell you, this is not news to those of us in the online community world.

In fact, the customer journey has long been an integral part of the online community experience. Many – dare I say most? – online communities make “the journey” a key part of their mission, aiding the customer before, during and after the point of purchase or other key decision. Communities are dedicated to helping customers and other stakeholders understand, explore, question and learn about products and services.

This “Ah-Ha!” moment for the customer journey highlights two different but parallel approaches – let’s call them tracks – for understanding this process: one is mapping the customer experience; the other is building customer engagement. In our ever-more-connected world, these two tracks are now merging to become one.

Making the Connection: Online communities and the Customer Journey

In our new world of customer-focused and customer-driven interactions, many firms struggle to engage and communicate with prospective and existing customers at appropriate times and places along the customer’s journey.

For example, when a sales person reaches out to a prospective customer, often the sales person has no way of knowing where this prospect is in their purchase cycle. Another example: anyone who has worked in customer service knows that customers typically wait to reach out to a company for assistance only after they have reached a high degree of frustration with their purchase.

Now imagine if a firm were able to build a relationship with a prospect during their research phase, or engage with a customer before their purchase problem reaches the breaking point? This is what online communities offer: a way to break the cycle of mis-timed outreach and catch-up customer care. Community offers a powerful way to move the buyer’s experience from episodic chaos to a more consistent, confidence-inspiring and customer satisfaction-building trip.

As the two tracks of customer experience mapping and engagement come together, let’s identify the four phases of the customer’s journey: Awareness, Evaluation, Purchase and Retention.


This is the initial phase, when the prospective customer hasn’t fully defined what she is looking for. She may not have a clear understanding of problem she is trying to solve, so identifying a possible solution is difficult. A community is especially well suited to supporting customers in this awareness phase. A vibrant and engaged community signals there is strong customer support for prospective buyers. User-contributed content – questions asked and answered – plus sponsor-contributed content speeds up the problem and solutions identification process, which might include specific product and service recommendations. All this occurs while the prospective customer is building relationships with community members.


During the evaluation phase the prospective buyer winnows the options and examines product and service offerings in detail. It is comparison shopping. One advantage a community can offer is creating a single point of reference and collaboration for a buyer’s team. Online communities bring together a wide range of content and conversations within a single environment. It becomes the place for a single buyer or a team to share information and compare options. The community supports information-gathering from many sources but places all this content in a collaborative framework which supports comparisons and discussions about needs, preferences and decision factors.

Consider this situation: our buyer posts a question directly into an online forum and receives a range of responses from other community members. Some of those members will have been through the evaluation phase and made a decision. Some will be in the same state of uncertainty as our buyer. Still others will have long-term experience with the outcomes of a purchase decision. Many voices, many shared opinions. Where is the voice of the firm?

Some advanced-thinking organizations have created specific discussion areas to talk with prospective buyers — dedicated forums staffed with knowledgeable sales people who can respond open way to a buyer’s questions. These skilled sales people must have incentives to participate and training in the techniques of consultative selling to interact successfully with customers in a community environment.

First Purchase

At last! The buyer makes a decision and becomes a first-time customer. The psychology is similar to other kinds of journeys; by turns exhilarating, exhausting and complicated. And once the traveler gets to the destination, the party can begin.

But this is also a delicate time for the company, because – as with a first-time traveler – the new buyer’s expectations are exceedingly high. Every new customer’s interaction with the firm is memorable. With a complex services purchase, for example, once the papers are signed and the buyer’s team dives into the project, the selling firm had better be ready. The new customers will begin making connections inside the company and with other customers outside. They become voracious learners. They are eager to prove this was the perfect decision — no pressure on the seller there!

An online community strategy can really pay off here. There are so many ways community interactions can accelerate projects and delight the new customer’s team. If there is a formal account management team in place, their presence in the community can help speed the pace of information sharing, support and relationship-building.

Another way to look at this is to consider the alternative: what if new customers were unable (no place to go) or unwilling (who are the people who sold us this?) to interact with your firm? They will take their questions and concerns to other online venues, such as: a community operated by enthusiasts or experts with no connection to your firm; an outside standards organization; a competing firm.

If your firm is not part of the conversation, it can’t answer questions; verify the accuracy of information shared or follow-up with customers. A community is your company’s opportunity to respond with accurate and authentic information.

Customer retention

Customer retention is the outcome of the three prior phases. It’s the desired end state for customer relationships — Gartner Group states 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. What firm doesn’t want to create customers for life as part of their overall strategy?

But how many companies make building and sustaining that “customer for life” a goal? In a world of fickle buyers, loyalty is hard to come by. Switching costs are at record lows. The choice to remain a customer is critical for both the customer and the company. How does the customer feel? How did the interactions and support go? Were they listened to? Did they feel whole in the end? An online community attuned to these concerns is very powerful instrument for keeping customers.

Online communities don’t always replace traditional support models, especially with complex purchases. But well-executed communities can help the customer when they experience “The Middle Of the Night Problem,” when there is no one to call. And feeling heard and experiencing ultimate responsiveness goes a really long way with customer retention and how they feel about your firm.

Joining the Customer Journey Using Online Communities

Get Started With Video Marketing: DIY

Why Personas Fail

There’s plenty of fervor around the need for buyer personas; so why do some fail to deliver real value?

From where I sit, we have entered a new phase in the evolution of buyer persona maturity in marketing– or maybe this has been the phase we’ve been stuck in ever since the phrase “buyer persona” was first coined years ago, first in the design movements of the 90’s, and later into marketing and sales.

Today, you can find over 500,000 search results on the topic, most supporting the need for buyer personas as a foundational component of effective marketing. Ask an industry thought leader, and you will hear similar validation, “personas are more important than ever” and “know your buyer first.” In fact, 73% of companies currently use, or plan to use, buyer personas (ITSMA).

But there is a very sobering gap between the perceived value of buyer personas and the actual, realized value.

85% of companies aren’t using buyer personas correctly, according to the same survey. This gap is what the next phase of buyer persona maturity is all about. In reality, organizations are struggling to realize value from buyer personas as they relate to a complex sales and marketing process. Why is this the case?

Personas fail:

1. When they are little more than a demographic profile.

Our definition of a buyer persona may actually be the root cause for their failure.

There is a sharp difference between demographic segmentation (“CIOs and companies with over 5,000 employees in the manufacturing industry”) and in-depth buyer personas that represent a comprehensive view of the characteristics, attributes, motivations, and interests of these segments.

Buyer personas should seek to understand our targets as humans – how they make decisions, what drives their actions, how they behave.

“Personas fail when they turn out to be a rehash of previously established sales intelligence, and offer little guidance on how to humanize a brand, as well as content.” – Tony Zambito

2. When they are kept in the dark.

It’s 10am. Do you know where your personas are?

At the recent Content2Conversion conference, Erin Provey of SiriusDecisions described the current format of buyer personas, “I’ve literally seen binders on desks with pages of persona insights, qualitative and quantitative insights that cost thousands of dollars to produce.”

Buyer personas, in theory, are highly useful strategy documents. Why then are they so hard to find, trapped in PDFs and Powerpoints at the bottom of a desk drawer, or at best, maybe on the company intranet?

Personas should be made available throughout the business, referenced quickly and easily to guide the direction of marketing, sales, and product decisions.

3. When they are not updated.

The million-dollar question for many marketers is, “when was the last time you updated your buyer personas?”

Unfortunately the response often comes back in the form of years.

Personas are often not refreshed until a new regime change comes in. But if this is the case, you may miss the inevitable changes in that occur within fast-moving industries, whether regulatory (new compliance laws) economic (hard times in specific industries), or demographic (new or retiring buyers).

What’s worse, without refreshing personas on an ongoing basis, you may miss critical new influencers that emerge in the buying process. This information can be found in your CRM, happening in real-time in your marketing automation system, understood anecdotally in your sales pit, or revealed in primary persona interviews.

4. When they’re created in a bubble.

The process of creating strong personas involves three things that may terrify you:

  1. Interviews with real buyers (gasp!)

  2. Collaboration with other departments (say it ain’t so!)

  3. Challenges to your beliefs or deep-rooted assumptions (Nooo!)

I know. Take a deep breath. It will be okay.

There is no silver bullet for buyer personas. To get it right involves time-consuming interviews with real people, and an examination of the results with an open mind. This takes up bandwidth, may shift and pivot strategy, and – yes – calls for collaboration with other teams in the company.

A surefire way to create personas that don’t work is to do so in a conference room, doors shut, without involving other departments or speaking with real buyers.

5. When there’s no buy-in.

I recently heard personas were “emotionally adopted” by marketers. This rings true as the majority of B2B marketers predict their #1 responsibility in 2016 will be understanding buyers.

But other functions of the business all have skin in this game, and should reach consensus on the format, composition and expected use of personas. After all, “the only way personas add value is if the people who use them internalize them.” – Erin Provey, SiriusDecisions

When seeking to achieve buy-in, even the phrase can turn people off. “I have had clients say that we have to call it a buying center or we won’t get buy-in from the rest of the teams. Or we have to call it a profile, or something else. They get stuck in the semantics of it.” – Ardath Albee in a CMI interview.

6. When they do not translate to tactics.

Buyer personas that can not guide real-world strategy are fundamentally useless. They may look nice on the wall of your cubicle, but what value do they really provide? Personas should not be approached as a checklist item and filed away once completed. Instead, consider personas as “active tools” – objects that inform marketing strategy.

In our new eBook with Ardath Albee, we define what makes personas active tools.

Personas should:

  • Serve as a tool that can be referenced easily to help guide the development of relevant marketing programs

  • Point to specific topics of content as related to priorities defined as important to the persona

  • Reveal the circumstances of what could derail the detail (or the championing of the deal)

  • Be unique from all other personas to indicate a truly definable market segment

  • Identify a market segment that your marketing programs can reach and engage, as well as the means (channels, messages, formats) for doing so

  • Build a storyline across the continuum of the buying process that enables mapping content to needs and priorities at different points of decision making

  • Help marketers understand how emotions and empathy play in solving the specific problem or for reaching a key objective

Personas developed with this level of depth will serve as the foundation for content strategy developed to engage, create purposeful intent, and motivate them to buy. It’s pretty clear that a one-page profile with a few demographic details and descriptive adjectives won’t do the job.

7. When they don’t account for the buying committee.

B2B buying decisions are made by committee – multiple individuals working together to reach consensus. IDC found that an average of 7 buyers are involved in a B2B technology purchase decision.

Your persona development should reveal the dynamic among this committee, especially what information each member needs to share with each other as it relates to different perspectives. Targeting only the elusive “decision maker” disregards the way business people actually buy – collaboratively.

8. When they contain useless information.

In a B2B environment, the fact that a persona may drive a minivan and prefer The Bachelor over Shark Tank really doesn’t serve to inform a salesperson’s call strategy, a marketer’s email campaign, or a product manager’s roadmap.

Now, B2B personas that contain these details may have been done so in an attempt to humanize the persona, the spirit of which should be celebrated!

But this type of detail is extraneous. There are better ways to humanize a buyer in a way that is relevant to our day to day job responsibilities – and it starts with empathy. Read more about this in our post “5 Signs You Don’t Know Your B2B Customer

The excitement and fervor around buyer personas and the unfortunate execution gap are only amplified by the emergence of marketing technology designed to automate the lead management lifecycle, even predict future behaviors. These tools only make a lack of buyer understanding all the more obvious, by exposing poorly targeted efforts to a greater audience.

It’s more important now, more than ever, to get personas right. Our only chance of realizing true value from marketing automation and content marketing, and successfully selling to an ever-empowered buyer, is to fully understand their needs and preferences from the start.

Further reading:


But don’t take my word for it. Find out how to create buyer personas as active tools, in our new eBook featuring Ardath Albee, “The Intelligent Guide to Buyer Personas.”


  • The 9 key components of a persona

  • How to design personas as active tools

  • 8 ways to use buyer personas

Why Personas Fail

Why Spelling And Grammar Still Matter In Content Marketing

SpellingAndGrammarContentMarketingHave you ever read through a blog, article, or social media post and thought, “This post is pretty good, but all of these spelling and grammatical errors are driving me crazy” ?

I’m a self-proclaimed grammar nerd, and I cringe whenever I read a blog that’s full of errors. In fact, I freak out if I notice a spelling error in one of my tweets, and I immediately go back and delete it. Yes, even I’m prone to nasty spelling and grammatical errors from time to time.

The rise of the Internet has led to a more laid back attitude when it comes to grammar in content marketing, largely due to the informality of email, texting, and social media. Slang, abbreviations, and a lack of punctuation are all incredibly common on these channels. Lately, I started wondering whether spelling and grammar even matter anymore when you’re writing online.

Re-read that first sentence again. If the answer is yes , it’s safe to say that grammar still matters in content marketing. Here’s why:

Too many typos are bad for your business

No one is immune to spelling and grammatical errors – not even the team over here at Impulse Creative. No matter how many times we proofread our work, sometimes an error slips through the cracks. However, having too many typos in your writing are bad for your business and can hurt your reputation over time.

A recent study by Disruptive Communications showed that the brand behavior that annoys people the most on social media is bad spelling and grammar. Surprised? If customers are annoyed by poor grammar on social media, just think about how they’ll feel if they receive an email or eBook laced with these errors.

It’s okay to be conversational in your writing, and you should always write for your audience. If using the phrase “OMG” will resonate with you audience, then by all means, use it. Just remember to use your best judgment, and avoid using abbreviations and slang when they’re not necessary.

PunctuationSavesLivesToo many typos make your writing hard to read

Your audience should never have to guess what you’re trying to say, and your writing should literally speak for itself. When your writing has too many typos, it can become difficult to read and understand. Just take a look at the image above, for example. Although it may seem silly, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all seen a real-life example of this at one point or another.

One or two errors in your writing may slip by your audience, especially when they’re reading fast. However, glaring grammatical errors can minimize the impact of your content. Too many mistakes can make your writing difficult to read and digest, which is never a good thing.

Don’t rely on spellcheck to catch all of your mistakes. Instead, read over your writing after you’re done and even consider reading it out loud. If you have a question about whether you should add a comma or if you’re using the correct spelling of a word, don’t be afraid to Google it. Additionally, find someone who knows their stuff and have them proofread your writing for you. If you don’t have someone who can proofread for you, try apps like Grammarly and Hemingway App.

“You are what you write

Ever heard the phrase, “you are what you eat?” In a crazy, weird (okay, maybe I’m pushing it) way, I think this applies to your writing too. When you write clearly and publish content that’s relatively free of spelling and grammatical mistakes, you show that you value great work, and you position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. On the other hand, publishing work full of errors may give off the vibe that you’re careless or that you don’t take your work seriously.

The English language is complex. Although your content doesn’t need to abide by all of the spelling and grammar rules your college English professor taught you, it’s still important to double-check your work for errors. Being mindful of spelling and grammar isn’t about being a “grammar snob;” it’s about making your writing easy to read.

What do you think? Do spelling and grammar still matter in content marketing?

The Beginners Guide to Inbound Marketing eBook

Why Spelling And Grammar Still Matter In Content Marketing

The Recruiter Performance Appraisal: Do You Have One?

Recruiter Performance EvaluationWith the current market thriving, it’s quite amazing that just a few years ago we were in the midst of the “Great Recession.” Termed the “worst global recession since World War II,” our economy was in the tank, with unemployment figures soaring from 5% to 10% in just a 1-year span.

During this timeframe, nearly one in ten people in the United States was seeking employment. Even recruiters were looking for work. Companies weren’t hiring recruiters because there weren’t any open positions to recruit for.

Incredible how things change so quickly.

Now, just a short time after the “official” end to the great recession (late 2009), all of our clients tell us that getting help with talent acquisition is one of the top priorities for their business in 2015. Whether it’s hiring an outsourced recruiting company or in-house recruiters, it appears that the competition for talent is at its greatest peak since the Dot-com bubble in the late 1990s.

The market for recruiters has skyrocketed. A quick search on shows over 35,000 posted positions with “Recruiter” in the title. In Illinois alone, is advertising over 700 recruiter jobs.

Part of the reason demand for recruiters is so high is that when the economy went south, many recruiters were displaced into other industries and took occupations outside of recruiting. Recruiters left the industry in masses, which has now reduced the number of experienced recruiters available to hire.

So, what does it mean when there are fewer and fewer recruiters to help fill positions in staffing firms that need to find talent to grow? The answer for many companies is to start hiring and training fresh college graduates, or even hiring individuals from other industries just to get the recruiting headcount in house.

When you hire staff that you intend to keep, you create a downstream dilemma: How do you retain the best people who’ve invested in? Part of the challenge is the environment that you’ve created – making sure that your company has a great culture, rewards your recruiters fairly, and provides them with opportunity for growth. The other half is the feedback loop – making sure that you communicate regularly with them so that they understand where they fit, how they are performing, and where they can improve.

In our experience working with and consulting for IT Staffing companies, we find that many organizations miss the part about communication and the feedback loop. A new recruiter may be energized about their new job and works hard to meet goals and fit in, but many organizations don’t go the extra step to provide them regular feedback.

Or, if there is some kind of recruiter performance appraisal, it’s certainly not formal and is usually not very detailed. A recruiter performance appraisal like this typically results in vague future objectives like, “hire 10 more contractors this year to earn that next bonus level!” Unfortunately, these evaluations do more harm than good because recruiters aren’t given a direction for self-development.

In these scenarios, employees tend to leave because the grass is always greener on the other side: That other company where their friends took a new job is paying well, has better training, and gives more vacation time. You don’t want to be in a situation where your people are leaving and telling the rest of your staff how great it is elsewhere. This kind of turnover can leave a company scrambling to grow, always hiring to replace, instead of hiring to expand.

Because our goal at echogravity is to help staffing companies grow, we’ve pulled together our own version of the Recruiter Performance Appraisal. We’ve gathered information and spent time assessing the skills that recruiters should have in order to perform well in their roles.

This free download includes all the specifics needed to immediately print and use – details of the manager, long- and short-term goals, skill evaluation areas, and much more. Get your Recruiter Performance Appraisal copy here and be sure to let us know what you think.

Free Recruiter Performance Evaluation

The Recruiter Performance Appraisal: Do You Have One?

5 Signs Your Top Employees Are Looking Elsewhere

signs your top employees may be looking for jobs

After taking the time and energy to groom an employee into a top performer, finding a two-week’s notice letter on your desk can be a devastating blow.

And it happens somewhere every day. Approximately 1.7 million people quit their jobs each month in search of better opportunities. In today’s more fluid job market, many of these transitions are outside of your control.

You may not be able to stop someone from moving on, but you can at least be aware of signs that top employees are considering their options so you’ll have more time to be prepared.

Here are 5 warning signs your company’s top performers might be looking to jump ship.

1. Productivity Has Decreased

If your once dedicated and eager leaders are suddenly missing deadlines or turning in sloppy work, it’s a huge red flag. Employees who have lost enthusiasm for the job likely don’t plan on being around long enough to deal with the repercussions.

2. Personal Days and Sick Days Have Increased

If personal time off and absences are suddenly at an all-time high without explanation, it may be a sign your top performers are interviewing at another company.

Cue the fake coughs and family emergencies.

3. Their Attire Has Changed

If employees usually dress business casual but have started dressing a little nicer, take note. There’s a good chance they’ve gotten dressed up to impress a potential new boss at their lunchtime interview.They’re dressing for the job they want, not the one they have.

4. They’re More Active on Social Media

If you’re starting to suspect some of your leaders are getting ready to leave, an easy way to confirm your suspicions is by checking their social media pages. Have they made extensive updates to their LinkedIn profile recently? Do they have new Facebook friends from other companies? If so, there’s a good chance they’re taking interviews.

5. Their Attitude Has Changed

Did you and your leaders once have a great rapport, but suddenly, they seem to be dodging you?Employees who are preparing to leave will often show their hand by isolating themselves from their coworkers.

They’ve already mentally checked out, so avoiding socializing with others is going to save them the trouble of having to act like everything is fine. If you see your employees are starting to avoid social interaction, keep the lines of communication open. Reach out to them and find out what’s making them unhappy.

When high performers sense there is no next step for them or they feel their contributions no longer matter, the frustration can build to a breaking point.

This is why it’s crucial to proactively keep your top performers engaged and help them plan a future career path at your company. If high turnover seems to be a pattern, it could be a sign of a larger issue.

In the end, however, some job transitions are inevitable. If an employee has made up his or her mind to move to another company, it’s difficult to convince that person to stay. Your best defense is to have a strong succession management process in place to identify your next leaders before you need to find a replacement. OnPoint has helped small, mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies create strong succession management programs that include training and development for high-potential employees.

For more information on how to keep your current leaders engaged and build a strong bench of future leaders, check out our blog.

5 Signs Your Top Employees Are Looking Elsewhere

Blogging For Results

Startup Stock PhotoPeople ask me why I write a marketing blog. I tell them because it is who I am and where I want to focus. If there was no pay off in blogging, I simply would not do it.

My Background

Every day, I am driven to make a difference. I have a strong need to see results and continue to see our company moving forward.

Every company goes through tough times for one reason or another. The key is to not stay there and to find a way to breakthrough. Blogging actually helps me focus on where I want to go and not spend so much time at where I have been. It helps me really focus on ideas that I can easily implement and continue to work on.

The one thing I have noticed is that working with a sense of urgency produces results and it has to happen everyday. As a result, I try to write content at least four to five days a week to help support this self of urgency mindet.

It Is About Creating Fresh Content

Each week brings new direction and more incentive. There isn’t a week that goes by that I say, “Wow that week went by fast.”

I have found that people who are always learning and sharing new ideas are the most successful. For me, that means researching information on marketing and trying to find ideas for writing and executing new marketing initiaties. Every day, I learn something new about our clients that I did not know before. By maintaining a blog site, I am able to record these thoughts that are shared by others and I can relate them to my own experience.

Where Do I See Results?

I have scaled back my time on social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. I still share content on these sites, but I do not spend a ton of time there because these sites are becoming more like news and broadcast sites. That is really fine with me. I am really okay with this trend.

I used to try and engage, but I like to talk about one topic, that being a blog site or my company blog site. What I am seeing from these sites is more “recognition.” People are recognizing our company name and my name associated with the business. Again, this is really the key. This recognition can be measured in the number of phone calls received at work, the number of new contacts I make in person at trade shows and conferences. The major takeaway here is that blog content is the starting place to sharing great content on social media sites. Many people have found success on social media without a blog site, but having a blog validates your work and always gives people a place to learn more about you and learn more about you. Many people shy away from ever doing this and as a result, they have to spend much more time on social media sites to validate their existence.

In addition, I get to be connected with some great executives in other industries. Today, people are mesasured by their connections with others and who they do business with. If you really work at your personal, professional brand online, you will find that you really can build your influence online and people will take notice. People are taking note that I am having success with different marketing techniques and as a result our company is also experiencing success. Getting connected and keeping people informed about yourself and your company are extremely important and blogging allows you to keep connected and keep your message online for a longer period of time than just a simple tweet, or status update.

People connect with people. Think of sports teams. Even teams like the Kansas CityRoyals have hometown heroes that people like to relate to. People relate to people. As a result, I want to show that my marketing efforts are a result of a great company that I work for. Blogging streches me and makes me work harder to continue to work that much harder to show suceess. It is a part of my planning, execution, and validation of my work.


Everyone has a different take on this topic and some of you might be looking for more metrics to back up my claims. I do look at metrics everyday and I will leave you with the metrics that most matter to me. Since I started blogging in 2009, I have seen these results:

  • Increased revenue from sales

  • Average of new accounts each day: 7-12

  • More sales in niche areas

  • Increased phone call volumes

  • Increased client service support: Additional employees

  • More recognition online on social media sites and Google searches

  • More people linking and picking up data from blog sites each day

It does come down to people connecting people. Do people know who you are and the company you work for? If that is all they know then you are like a lot of people. If you maintain a company blog site and a professional blog site, then people know much more about you and you can expect to see more results because you are more transparent than a majority of your peers and professionals. It can be a real difference maker.

Blogging For Results